What are you on?

Fad diets… yes or no?

First things first, the word diet has been long associated with the cutting out and removal of often the ‘good’ foods we love that are often bad for us. We replace of them with something that is a real punishment for us, which is probably why like most people I have failed at sticking to a diet or twelve. But the thing is the word diet isn’t the dirty word we have made it. Diet is actually the word that describes the foot that we take in, in order to live and function and survive. A person can have either a healthy or an unhealthy diet but they can’t ever not be on a diet. When someone refers to being on a diet what they are most likely referring to is a conscious switch they have made between an unhealthy diet and a healthy diet. Our diets are made up of 3 essential Macro-nutrients called Fat, Protein and Carbohydrate and lots of Micro-nutrients such as Iron and Zinc.

Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are essential to our everyday living in the sense that they provide us with the energy to move and function as well as being important in the repair and protection of the body. Therefore it does not make any sense that we would follow a fad diet plan such as the Atkins Diet that totally abolishes the use of one of these sources of energy. Yes the Atkins diet has shown to have success in allowing people to lose weight, however it has also been shown that this weight loss is only in the short term and that long term benefits do not seem to be as readily achievable.

So if diet plans like Atkins isn’t our answer what is? Well it’s quite simple actually. If we put more energy in to our body than we are able to expend, then the excess energy is stored away to use at a later date, which is why we start to see fatty deposits appear on our body if this is repeated too often. Therefore, in order to reduce the excess energy stores we have built up it stands to reason that we should expend more energy than what we put in to our system. Therefore if we continue to eat as we do now but took up a lot of exercise it would be possible to increase expenditure above intake and allow us to lose weight.

However as we are looking at Diet it is also possible to do this by changing our intake. As previously stated, the food we eat is full of energy. This energy is normally called a calorie (Another word with a bad reputation). On average a man should consume about 2500 calories a day and a Woman should take in 2000. It has been found that in order to lose 1lb (≈0.5Kg) of body fat in a week we would need to reduce 500 calories a day. (It is recommended that you eat at least 1200 calories a day)

So now we know that a reduction in calorie intake can help us lose weight what is the best way to do this? After all, that’s all Atkins was really doing, he was reducing energy intake by removing the most common source of energy. Well the NHS Eatwell Plate lays out the required proportions of each food type that we need in order to have a healthy and balanced diet that will supply us with all the nourishment we need. If we combine the 500 a calorie a day reduction, increase our everyday activity and eat the different food types in the proportions suggested by the NHS, then we can safely reduce our weight, gain all the nutrients we need and maybe be able to say ‘Im on a balanced diet, I can have a little bit!

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